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Geordie Morgan (1875-1952)
James Pritchard (1862-1952)

The Western Socialist, May-June 1952

Pioneers Pass On

We regret to announce the deaths of three comrades who passed away within weeks of one another. Two of these G. D. Morgan and James Pritchard were pioneers of the Socialist movement in Western Canada.

G. D. Morgan, affectionately known as "Geordie" died Feb. 26 in his 77th year after about a year’s illness. In spite of the fact that G. D. was not a speaker there were few Socialists that were better known and who exercised a greater influence on those he was associated with during the history of the old SPC in Vancouver. A former member of the Social Democratic Federation in Britain, he came to Canada around 1902 and homesteaded in Manitoba for a brief period before taking up domicile in Winnipeg. Here he took an interest in working class affairs from the first and aided in the publication of the first labor paper in Canada, "The Voice of Labor" to which he contributed articles. He soon moved on to Vancouver where there was considerable Socialist activity being carried on and when this crystallized in the launching of a socialist journal "The Western Socialist" in 1903 and the formation of the Socialist Party of Canada the following year, Geordie, Kingsley and others were amongst its founders. He became a member of the Dominion Executive Committee of the new party which was destined to create a considerable ferment in the political pot of Canada before its demise in 1924 (it was reorganized in June, 1931) and he continued to be a member of most of the succeeding Executive Committees. For most of its history Morgan was one of the finest of the Party’s economics teachers and his vast knowledge of the science, combined with his unassuming nature, patience and ability as a teacher, attracted many who were non-socialists, at the time, to the well attended Sunday afternoon classes. Former students of his are to be found scattered all over the world, some of them in scholastic occupations which present barriers to identification with the Socialist movement. About twenty years ago he became employed as book agent with the University of B. C. and retired at the age of 65, but not before he decided to obtain a Master of Science degree which he did at the age of 50. He became a member of the new SPC during the war and although not active, with advancing years he continued to maintain a keen interest in Socialist affairs and writings.

The passing of Morgan and Pritchard invokes what is called a flash back in film parlance, on what appears, to many a younger Socialist, here, an incredible era for Western Canada.

The passing of James Pritchard on April 15 in his 90th year seems like the lowering of the curtain on an era of the western Canadian socialist movement. Pritchard was born in Wales, and as a lad worked for a time in the Frederick Engels factory in Manchester, although he was too young to know then of Engels connection with the Socialist movement. He came to B. C. around the turn of the century where he became employed in the coal mines of Nanaimo. Working conditions in the mines were bad but the miners were organizing, and the Western Federation of Miners had come into existence. Some of these miners, like Pritchard, were imbued with socialist ideas and anxious to have the propagation of these ideas put on an organized basis. Hearing of the speaking ability of E. T. Kingsley who was holding forth on the soap box in a California city, Pritchard and a few others arranged for him to come north to Nanaimo for a series of speaking engagements. This came about and Kingsley stayed on for considerable time, where he did valuable work in consolidating a group, later moving over to Vancouver, where he became one of the founders of the SPC and a mainstay in its first years. James Pritchard remained in Nanaimo for many years where he was active on behalf of the new party which he had helped to form. Coming to Vancouver he continued his association with Party activities. His son William also became an active member and speaker for the party and was at one time editor of the party journal. In spite of his advanced age James remained mentally alert and physically robust, until his recent illness. He will be well remembered by many old timers.

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